Re: Drugs and Social Reality

Although I am not too familiar with Foucault, it seems to me that the drug
counterculture that arose en masse during the 1960s functioned on the level
of psychological warfare. By this I mean that drug use arose (especially in
the newly created suburban youth) as a tactic in the overall strategy of
resisting mental discipline and domination (resisting what Foucault refers
to in "Discipline and Punish" as the internalization of mental exercises
used by power to control the actions, gestures, thinking, and processes of
individuals). Such internal struggles were united in this new-found culture
by the common act of drug use. Keep in mind that previous to the rise of
this drug culture, various government agencies (ie. CIA) were engaging in
programs such as MK-ULTRA in order to test the use of certain illicit drugs
in mind control projects. These were largely unsuccessful, but many served
to spread the supply of drugs such as LSD.

On another level, use of many drugs (specifically hallucinogens) allowed one
to effectively destroy the "ego". The "ego", according to Deleuze and
Guattari in "Anti-Oedipus", is one of the ways in which the individual mind
is tied to capitalism (the "recording-machine"). Through the process of
defining individuals (where they're from, they're name, job, parents, etc.)
the "recording-machine" seeks to understand, control, and integrate the
individual within its framework through a reenforcement of the "ego". This
ties in with the mental discipline mentioned regarding Foucault. What is
interesting is that Deleuze and Guattari's representation of the rebel
against this "recording-machine" is the schizophrenic, who possesses no
"ego" as such, which capitalism is not able to fully understand or integrate
within its framework. The link here is that during the 1950s, LSD and many
other hallucinogens were used to study schizophrenics since these drugs
produced a similar state in the user. So perhaps (this might be
far-fetched), the use of drugs and the obliteration of the "ego" operated as
a weapon against capital.

In a class analysis, the use of drugs as a weapon is even more evident.
Since the 1960s operated under the premise of the Keynesian productivity
deal, drug and alcohol use by workers (especially while on the job) was a
way to counter any productivity gains realized by capital (for obvious
reasons). This tactic of drug use while on the job, which is still with us
today, is a way for the worker to reappropriate the time spent at work for
his own ends and desires. You can see the counter-attack of capital today.
Many jobs now test applicants for drug use and fire those that use them.

John Pruett

>From: Bryan Clark <bryan_clark@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>Reply-To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>Subject: Re: Drugs and Social Reality
>Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 19:35:29 -0600

>What? They were seeing what most people were seeing. If there was a
>reality principal and people desired some sort of collective experience or
>reality, what was lacking in the mainstream reality principal. I think
>there was (and is) a desire to see something *different*. This desire to
>escape dominant reality principals (which you admit were socially
>constructed, thus the product of systems of discourse) can easily be seen
>the rise of forms of resistance to these discourses. At the same time,
>last assertion (which I read as meaning drug use was meant to escape all
>culture) cannot be supported by the historical facts either. Look at the
>rise of communes, the great communal imperatives of the drug culture (free
>love, brother/sisterhood, etc). Fundamental within this drug experience
>the desire to form a new culture, using drugs to radically redefine one's
>nature to reality.

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